McDonogh's Andrew Osbourne knew it was just a matter of time before he got the right pitch.
The senior first baseman had grounded out in his first at-bat, but his second -- a two-out single in the fourth -- came with one man on against Calvert Hall's Jason Reinhart (8-2) and advanced the runner.
So when his second opportunity arose with men on first and third in the sixth inning against reliever Larry Marino, Osbourne hit the game-winning two-run double, as the Eagles overcame a 3-0 deficit to win, 4-3, in yesterday's Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference tournament semifinal.
"It wasn't meat, but it was a straight fastball -- and it was just what I was waiting for," said Osbourne, whose effort boosted the top seeded Eagles (15-3) into Wednesday's title game at either Towson State or Memorial Stadium.
Second-ranked McDonogh, which dethroned then-four-time champ Calvert Hall for the crown last year, will defend against either fifth-ranked Mount St. Joseph (16-4) or No. 3 Calvert Hall (18-4).
Calvert Hall upended Mount St. Joseph, 2-0, in Thursday's first round of the double-elimination tournament but has a rematch Monday with the third-seeded Gaels, who ripped fourth-seeded Loyola (8-9), 20-3, in yesterday's consolation quarterfinal.
Coach Joe Binder replaced Reinhart (five strikeouts, four hits) with Marino in the sixth, after Kenny Cloude -- the inning's first batter -- bounced a hard shot off Reinhart's glove arm, then took two bases on Reinhart's errant throw to first.
Reinhardt, who had thrown 70 pitches, said, "I still had control," and Binder said, "I probably shouldn't have [taken him out], but I thought at the time it was the right move."
"I was surprised because we've had success against Marino in the past," said McDonogh coach Al Poklemba, whose club lost, 9-0, to the Cardinals in Monday's final regular-season game. "That game meant nothing to us, so I wasn't concerned."
With Cloude (7-2) on the mound, Poklemba didn't have to worry.
Cloude threw 94 pitches -- his fastest was clocked at 84 mph -- striking out eight batters against six hits and giving up his only walk in the final inning.
Cloude said the Cardinals got to his "hanging curve" in a four-hit fourth, beginning with a single by Paul Barabasz.
Brian Matz later hit a one-out double to left-center, scoring Barabasz for a 1-0 lead before coming home on Jason Dean's two-out single.
The next batter, Tim Pilarski, doubled in Dean before Cloude got his third strikeout of the innning -- his sixth in the game.
"I just couldn't keep the curveball down, and I'm pretty sure they got every one of those hits off of it," said Cloude, The Baltimore Sun's 1992 Player of the Year. "So I just changed to the fastball and moved it in and out a little and that worked. Their 3-0 lead did nothing but get us fired up."
Cloude sparked his club with a double to start the bottom of the inning.
He scored to make it 3-1 after Dean cleanly fielded a grounder by Jeremy Seipel before his throw to get Cloude at third went wide.
XTC Seipel, who took second on the error, advanced on Osbourne's single before being brought in on Rich Levin's sacrifice fly ball to deep center.